The Thriller Espionage SAS Action Story You've Been Waiting For
Film & TV|Dec 14, 2021

The Thriller Espionage SAS Action Story You've Been Waiting For

Russel Hutchings Novel "Brimstone" Is A MUST-HAVE This Christmas!
Penthouse Staff

From the relentless jungles of Cambodia to the chaotic civilian filled streets of Sydney and Bangkok, to the secretive dens of Moscow to the extravagant French Riviera, this is a fast-paced read that will bring you face to face with the Russian Mafia. Following the first book in the MANTRA-6 series, development is well underway for a feature film of the same title. It’s anticipated that filming will begin in mid-2022 on the Gold Coast, with a film release anticipated for late 2023.


The hum of the MC-130 Talon Special Operations aircraft seemed louder than usual. John Devereaux’s senses were on heightened alert, elevating his sensitivity to that and those around him. He had exited aircraft such as this over 800 times, but always as part of a team.

On this moonless night, his lonely step into the abyss was only the start of a mission that would test him to his very core, both professionally and personally.

No team for support; no one to rely on – he was alone.

When he left the ramp of the C-130, he was an NOC – a non-official cover operative – seconded to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to do their dirty work. A man forged in the Special Air Service (SAS). His mission had only just begun.

The Loadmaster raised his hand, showing a three-fingered hand signal.

Three minutes.

The Loadmaster was a big man at 190 centimetres but looked docile for someone that size. He gazed over at Devereaux, having never met him or seen his face before.

When Devereaux boarded the Talon, his face was already covered with a lightweight woollen black balaclava. To the aircraft crew, he was an enigma – a package they knew better than to ask questions about. Their only role was to deliver the package.

The Loadmaster looked over at Devereaux, and as they made eye contact, the Loadmaster shook his head as if to say, ‘you crazy bastard’.

Partway down the fuselage was a thick, black curtain that blocked off the rear of the plane. This area was the blackout area, where the only light used was a dull-red ambient light designed to assist in maintaining night vision and to reduce visibility from the ground. All windows of the Talon were blacked out.

To the rear of the heavy curtain was a restricted area: the curtain shrouded a small two-man capsule that housed highly sensitive electronic warfare equipment. The equipment was used by Special Ops to jam enemy communication systems or to listen to radio chatter that could impact the operation.

Painted entirely in matt black, this was what made the Talon a potent aircraft for infiltrating into enemy-held territory.

The red ‘jump’ light was now illuminated.

Devereaux moved to the central oxygen console and disconnected his oxygen hose through which he had spent the last hour pre-breathing. He connected his two bailout bottles that would provide him with another 30 minutes of oxygen – enough for his journey into the darkness.

Making one final check of his equipment and ensuring his prototype helmet-mounted night-vision goggles (NVGs) were locked into place, he looked over at the Loadmaster and gave a thumbs-up signal. He was good to go.

The Loadmaster raised his index finger.

One minute!

The rear door and ramp opened into position revealing a black hole through which no light seemed to penetrate.

Devereaux looked for some visible feature, but it was just a canvas of black. He peered into the black void beyond the edge of the jump ramp, willing himself to keep his heart rate under control.

The Loadmaster crossed his fingers.

Thirty seconds!

Devereaux moved to the edge of the ramp, then turned around and faced back into the aircraft. He edged his way backwards until he was balancing on the balls of his feet – he was ready!

Glancing at his altimeters, he noticed the needles breaching 37,000 feet. Shit, it’s cold, he thought. Even through his gloves, he could feel the icy air. However, he knew this would all change as he entered the tropical layers. The air warmed up with every thousand feet he descended; soon, he would be sweating like a pig as the humidity and ground temperature kicked in.

He edged his way backwards until he was balancing on the balls of his feet – he was ready!

For a moment, Devereaux reflected on what lay ahead.

He glanced over his left shoulder at the jump lights and the Loadmaster and awaited the void that beckoned him.

Green lights pierced the immediate ramp area, and the Loadmaster pointed outside into the night as Devereaux stepped backwards and exited the aircraft.

The slipstream hit him in the chest at 190 knots. For an instant, it felt like being smacked by a cricket bat.

Maintain the exit position ….

Rotate on aircraft heading ….

Stabilise and monitor altimeters ….

Devereaux went through the drill.

Speed accelerating ….

Stability’s fine ….

Devereaux was on his way, breaching the border undetected.

Heading fine … altitude 31,800.

Passing through the first layer of cloud, Devereaux thought how eerie this place was. No visible object in sight; the dim glow from his altimeters was the only visible sign.

At 26,700 feet, Devereaux prepared to deploy the main chute, the MT1-XX, tactical glide parachute system, a 360-square-foot canopy most commonly used by Special Ops teams for standoff operations such as this.

At 25,000 feet, Devereaux had calculated a glide capacity of 15.1 kilometres – five kilometres more than required for the insertion. He continued to eyeball the altimeter and released the ripcord as the needle struck 26,000 feet.

The canopy deployed correctly and was fixed on half-breaks, reducing its forward speed and allowing Devereaux time to prepare for further flight. Reaching down and manoeuvring his hands through tight crevasses between his equipment, he adjusted his harness to get a better sitting position for the long descent ahead.

He then reached down to open his NAV console to reveal a GPS, which had the flight plan already pre-programmed in it. Next to the GPS was a compass, a digital altimeter, and a mild illumination cell to provide visuals on the console.

‘Course set to Landing Zone (LZ): Cambodia!’ he said to himself.

At 18,000 feet, the second layer of cloud engulfed him.

As he entered the clouds, he eased up on the toggles once again, and the canopy began to get buffeted by the colliding air temperatures that caused the turbulence.

Pulling down on his toggle into the half-brake position, he hoped that would sort the turbulence out. However, the turbulence grew stronger, so he eased up once again, only to be rocked violently from side to side.

He looked up as he was again hit by intense buffeting and saw that the right-hand side of his canopy had collapsed. He started to spiral rapidly to the right.

Instantly, he tried to counter the spiral by pulling hard on the left steering toggle, aiming to reinflate the collapsed cells; however, the spinning became more violent as the turbulence grew stronger. Devereaux looked down to locate the cut-away handle in case he needed to deploy the reserve parachute.

Not yet, he thought.

Looking down at his altimeters, he had lost over 2000 feet, and that was increasing. Devereaux looked up at the canopy again and saw that the right side was like a limp bed sheet flapping in the wind.

If he couldn’t clear it in the next few seconds, he’d have to use the cut-away, or he wouldn’t be able to reach the LZ. That wasn’t an option he wanted to take just yet.

He was rapidly descending and rotating to the point of going out of control.

He was falling into an abyss, total darkness all around him, his rate of descent increasing … his heart pounding harder!


* This is an edited extract from MANTRA-6 ‘Brimstone’ by Russel Hutchings (Big Sky Publishing, Dec 2021, RRP $24.99)


About the author:
Born in Perth, Western Australia in 1960, Russel is a former SAS Warrant Officer with over 20 years’ service in the Regiment. He’s operated in many of the world’s most dangerous areas and most recently performed the role as a military adviser and provided other ‘Information Collection Services’ to a US based company operating in Afghanistan. He draws on decades of experience in the SAS and within the intelligence collection sphere to write the MANTRA-6 series with credibility and authenticity.